Friday, November 1, 2002
Slice: Rights, Boomers And Flares
Discover which slice is yours, then leave it forever
Golf Fact #1: There are millions of golfers who have never hit a hook, but there isn’t a single player alive who hasn’t at one time or another sliced the ball. Why? Think of it this way: In terms of golf survival, the mother of all musts is getting the ball into the air—it’s the first and by far the most important problem you must solve. And to get the ball airborne, many golfers feel the need to chop down on the ball with an open clubface and with a very steep approach. While this technique works well as in “Houston, we have liftoff,” the joy in the control room is short-lived because while steepness is your friend during liftoff, it’s your enemy during the rest of the flight, imparting too much sidespin on the golf ball.
So here’s the great paradox in golf: Imbedded in the cure of its most primordial problem (getting the ball airborne) is the virus that causes the slice (an open clubface). Accomplish the one and you’re automatically infected by the other. Now, the second great paradox: You’re aware of all this, but nonetheless can’t stop slicing. The reason why the slice is such a pesky foe is that there are three unique kinds of slices (plus their offspring), and the generic cures offered in most instruction articles don’t work because they’re written for “The Slice,” not the slice you have at a particular moment.
Since 90 percent of new golfers aim to the right, 90 percent of new golfers are forced to overspin the shoulders to pull the ball back to the target. Aim far enough to the right and the shoulders spin so violently that the clubface becomes trapped behind the body, causing it to remain open at impact. Thus, the ball shoots to the right of the target, then cuts even farther right—the Mini Right-To-Right. If the shoulders spin faster, the Mini turns into an Adult Right-To-Right with even worse consequences.
With the ball flying so far right, you adjust by opening your stance and aiming to the left of the target. Now, the ball starts way left and slices back toward the target—the Baby Boomer. Aiming more to the left to accommodate your Baby Boomer works until, in an effort to hit it too hard with the right side, you actually square the clubface to the path with an aggressive over-the-top move of the shoulders. The result is a pull way left of target. (In the family of slices, the pull is the first cousin to the slice.) To correct the pull, you introduce a chicken-winged left arm to open the face at impact. This results in an even bigger slice that finishes to the right of the target (the Adult Boomer). To fix this, you aim (open up) even more left and employ more chicken wing. This causes the mother of all Boomerangs, the Sonic Boomer, a ball that starts way left and exits right, melting your scores as it nestles somewhere near Topeka.
Sick of this score-wrecker, you listen to the advice of your playing buddies that you’re aiming way left, so you aim in the general direction of the target, but still employ your old friend the chicken wing. Aided by the open face at impact, the ball starts in the general direction of the target and then spins to the right—welcome to the Flare. Hit enough Flares and you’ll subconsciously open your stance to start it more left, causing a reintroduction of the Baby Boomer. And so the cycle goes.
I’ve seen thousands of golfers endure this endless loop of faux fixes and slice progressions. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. We’re about to embark on a Slice Eradication Program (S.E.P.) that I’m sure will help you get your ball flying more toward your targets. The S.E.P. involves: 1) recognizing that there’s more than one way to slice a golf ball; 2) identifying what slice you’re currently producing (see above); 3) learning the key anti-slice matchups; and finally, 4) grooving a no-slice swing.
Page 1 of 4